Writers such as Glenn Greenwald and intellectuals such as Chomsky have been repeatedly pilloried by the ‘left, liberal’ media for suggesting that dissent in America remains difficult, if not near impossible to articulate particularly around questions of the national security. The argument has been that America allows dissenting voices in its press and public spaces, the evidence of which is that both Greenwald and Chiomsky can publish freely, and speak freely.
This argument is disingenuous at best. It ignores the incredibly overwhelming efforts made in the media to create a clear consensus around specific issues of war, violence, race, imperialism, capitalism and democracy. In this noise-chamber of the predictable, the few voices of dissent reflect not so much a space for free-speech, but a desperate effort to manufacture a facade of ‘debate’ without ever quite bringing into question, or without ever quite distancing ourselves from the consensus.
This was blatantly evident in the recent appearance of Snowden on NBC by Brian Williams – true, Snowden said his piece – but the voice of authority and editorial control – that of Williams, closed the interview by yet again undermining Snowden, and closing the discussion with the suggestion that indeed he had broken the law and that his actions were what needed to be prosecuted and challenged. The consensus was defined and underlined.And so here in all our discussions about Iraq – the consensus is clear: we cannot accept or acknowledge the devastation of Iraqi society that our war left, to say nothing about the 12 years of near-genocidal sanctions that broke the back of this nation.
We want to forget that for the last 20 years the USA and its European allies have placed Iraq under social, political, economic and military pressure that should rightfully be considered a war crime, and genocidal. Our policies and practices may have resulted in over a million dead, and tens of millions displaced, a cultural heritage scattered and destroyed, raw resources siphoned and stolen, corruption, criminality, brutality, torture, disappearances, hunger, poverty, rising child mortality, sectarian violence, drugs, weapons, and a complete breakdown of any moral and ethical glue that the society may once have had, are completely and absolutely our fault. Saddam Hussein was an amateur in comparison to the horrors we unleashed and continue to do so.
So to then sit and listen to these vile, and sick men debate Iraq as if it was nothing more than a cultural pathology, an immature society, a bizarre national entity, and to have them suggest that the solution is more violence, more war, more bombs and more brutality, makes you realise that man possesses an near infinite capacity for evil and hideousness, and perhaps most so when he can dress in a bad 2-piece suit, and be given the respectability of a TV stage and an agreeable host.